Posted on

Scalise: People Criticizing Trump for Soleimani Strike Need to Ask Whose Side They’re On



On Saturday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that people who are criticizing President Trump for the Soleimani strike are “going to have to look at a mirror and say, whose side are you on if you can question something that actually makes America safer?”

Scalise said, “Any responsible commander-in-chief would have done the same thing, but President Trump’s the one who did it, and I’m glad that the president had the fortitude to say we’re going to put America first. We’re going to protect America and our allies around the world by doing this. And you know, if somebody wants to criticize him for it, I think they’re going to have to look at a mirror and say, whose side are you on if you can question something that actually makes America safer?”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





Source link

Posted on

Sessions on Impeachment: ‘Dramatic Abuse’ by House — Pelosi Refusal to Send to Senate Shows Lack of Confidence



HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — On Thursday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was on the campaign trail in his state’s Tennessee Valley, catching up with voters and local officials about the issues of the day.

Of notable importance was the House of Representatives’ passage of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump a day earlier.

In comments given to Breitbart News, the former U.S. Senator and Attorney General criticized the House of Representatives’ effort on the grounds of substance and called it a “dramatic abuse” by the body.

“I think it has just been shocking to most Americans to see how little substance this is,” he said. “It’s like, is this all there is? After all these vicious charges against the president, it comes down to these vague charges of abuse and obstruction? What does that mean? I think it’s a dramatic abuse by the House of Representatives of the impeachment clause in the Constitution. And it’s not anything the House says it is. Some have tried to say that. But in truth, the Constitution says treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors. Those mean something. It means something other than we had a disagreement with you, and now we’re going to impeach you. This was a horrible, improper act, in my opinion.”

The former U.S. Attorney General also weighed in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refusal at the moment to transfer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, where a trial would take place. He said that gesture from Pelosi showed a lack of confidence in the two articles.

“I think there’s no doubt they don’t have confidence in them,” Sessions explained. “They’re not able to defend the charges. You had Professor [Jonathan] Turley, who I have gotten to know, Ken Starr, who is a great lawyer, being a law school dean and was a Clinton special prosecutor, but he says it is nowhere close to impeachable offenses. And Professor Turley does, too. He says it would be the least supported impeachment charge ever in our nation’s history. I’m totally in accord with that. Not sending it over is to me a clear indication that they’re not proud of their work. I said some weeks ago it looked like they were going to force this thing through and slink away, and hope it goes away. They know it doesn’t have legs in the Senate.”

Sessions did not have a recommendation as to whether or not witnesses should be called in the Senate trial. But he added that he did not think witnesses were necessary and pointed out that witnesses were not called in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.

“In my opinion, there’s so little substance in this impeachment charge that calling witnesses is not required to fulfill the responsibility of the Senate,” he said. “But I know Sen. McConnell and the White House are talking about that question. I won’t make a recommendation as to what they should do. I think they should think it through, and I think they probably should reach a good decision. I don’t think it’s required. We didn’t do witnesses on Clinton. With Clinton, there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt — all the elements of three different crimes. There’s no crime really charged here. The charges are vague, and they support impeachment for almost anything Congress wanted to do in the future if this is sustained.”

Sessions is the apparent front-runner in a crowded field for the seat he held for 20 years before accepting President Donald Trump’s appointment to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Sessions faces former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) for the opportunity to run against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) next November.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor





Source link

Posted on

Labour leadership contest: who are the runners and riders? | Politics


Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey

A close ally of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, Long-Bailey has been groomed as a potential leftwing contender for the top job, who launched a slick video about her backstory during the campaign. The Salford MP and shadow business secretary performed well as a stand-in for Corbyn in leadership debates.

During the election campaign, Long-Bailey spearheaded promotion of the party’s plan for a green jobs revolution and was forced to tackle tough questions over its decision to soften its stance on hitting net-zero carbon emissions.

Her father was a Salford docker and trade union representative, and she worked in several service industry jobs before qualifying as a solicitor. But given her close alliance with Corbyn and the left, and the rejection delivered by the electorate on Thursday, members may be nervous.

Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry,

Emily Thornberry,

The shadow foreign secretary had a quiet election campaign, which was viewed in some quarters as a sign she would run for leader if Labour lost the election. Others believed she was being kept quiet due to her remain position. She has been faultlessly loyal to Corbyn, despite not always having been on his leftwing side of the party. As a “girly swot” she believes she is good at taking on Boris Johnson. In her acceptance speech in Islington South and Finsbury, she said: “The real fight has to begin now.”

Thornberry will have to fight allegations of being part of the “metropolitan elite”. The image has plagued her ever since she tweeted a picture in 2014 of a house in the Rochester and Strood constituency adorned with three flags of St George and the owner’s white van parked outside, provoking accusations of snobbery. She resigned her shadow cabinet position shortly afterwards.

Thornberry’s formative years may have informed her politics. Her parents divorced when she was seven years old and she moved into a council house with her mother. She and her siblings took free school meals. But her politics remain elusive. She voted against her own government under Blair and Brown but backed Yvette Cooper in the 2015 leadership campaign. As shadow foreign secretary, she has always trodden a careful line that does not stray too far from the leadership on issues such as Russia, Israel and Trident.

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer

The ambitious former director of public prosecutions has led the charge for remain in the shadow cabinet. He has held his Holborn and St Pancras seat since 2015 and been instrumental in shifting Labour’s position towards backing a second Brexit referendum. The party’s stance on Brexit has been blamed by some for the staggering defeat suffered by Labour on Friday. This means Starmer’s ownership of the direction taken could prove problematic if he tries to convince the membership to appoint him as their leader.

Away from Brexit, his politics are less clear. Prior to taking the role of DPP, he worked as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues. The Human Rights Act and the broader aspects of the constitution in the UK are in the sights of the Conservative government so his expertise in this area could be a strong sell.

Starmer is the only male runner on this list. There have long been calls for the next Labour leader to be a woman, including most recently from John McDonnell, the party’s shadow chancellor. McDonnell himself, once considered to be a potential candidate, has ruled himself out, as has Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary. The Conservatives frequently dig Labour over the fact the party have never had a woman as leader and the Tories have had two female PMs.

Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner

The shadow education secretary, a close friend of Long-Bailey’s, said in recent days she would like to support a Labour Brexit deal. She is regarded as a powerful public speaker and was praised for her interventions during the campaign. Some senior Conservatives said they would fear her as an adversary.

On her policy brief, her most controversial moments focused on private schools, which she believes should no longer be subsidised through charitable status.

Rayner’s life is often described as inspirational. She grew up on a council estate in Stockport; had a mother who couldn’t read or write; left school without any qualifications; got pregnant at 16 and left home to bring the child up alone. She qualified as a social care worker and became Unison’s most senior official in the North West region. She describes herself as “soft left” and backed Andy Burnham in the 2015 leadership election.

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips

The MP for Birmingham Yardley is a strong media performer who has built up a significant public profile from the backbenches. Her fiery speeches and witty barbs aimed at the Conservatives, including the prime minister, frequently go viral online. She is also considered a passionate advocate for her constituency and issues on the ground therein.

Corbyn-supporting Labour members are likely to be deeply suspicious of her, as she has frequently been critical of his leadership and the party’s approach to antisemitism.

She has not formally announced her candidacy but wrote a piece for the Observer after the election, which many have viewed as the start of her bid for leadership. The piece discusses the issues of trust with Labour on the doorstep and the challenge of bringing back working-class voters.

Lisa Nandy

Lisa Nandy

Lisa Nandy

The Wigan MP has said she is seriously thinking about running for the leadership. In a piece for the Guardian, Nandy said she believed that, taken individually, many of the policies in Labour’s manifesto were popular with the public and that the election was not won due to any real affection for Boris Johnson and what he stands for.

Nandy has built a reputation as a campaigner for her constituency and others like it, many of which have fallen to the Tories. She helped to create the Centre For Towns thinktank and called for compromise over Brexit.

A soft-left candidate, she resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 over Corbyn’s leadership and handling of the EU referendum. Like Phillips, she may be viewed with suspicion from Corbyn supporters.

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper ran against Corbyn for the leadership in 2015 and is viewed as a centrist. Therefore, she would be likely to face an uphill battle to convince the party membership she is the right person for the job.

After losing the leadership election, Cooper focused on becoming a prominent figure on the backbenches, delivering scathing blows to the government in the Commons and has mastered the policy detail on Brexit and home affairs, the latter of which she scrutinises in her role as chair of the home affairs select committee.

She has been an MP since 1997 and held positions including chief secretary to the Treasury and secretary of state for work and pensions when Labour was in government.



Source link

Posted on

Boris Johnson takes victory lap of newly won north of England seats – Channel 4 News


Boris Johnson has promised former Labour voters he will ‘repay’ their trust as he visited the northeast of England to congratulate newly elected Tory MPs. He declared he wanted to spread opportunity to everyone.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn has faced more fury from former Labour MPs who lost their seats, claiming he had ‘failed as a communicator’ and warning that if the party didn’t sort itself out, it could spell the end of the Labour movement altogether.



Source link

Posted on

MARIN: Scheer’s message lost in fog of war


Imagine being a Conservative donor and realizing that your hard-earned money to get the party elected had been used by Party leader Andrew Scheer to send his kids to private school?

It’s not clear yet whether it was approved through normal channels or not.

It’s almost worse if it was approved. Was there no adult in the room exercising common sense?

It’s reminiscent of former cabinet minister Bev Oda’s $1,000 a day in limousine expenses, a pricey stay at London’s Savoy Hotel in 2011 and her $16 glass of orange juice — except she billed taxpayers for the lavishness.

But with political donations come tax receipts, so in the end Sheer’s entitlements are still coming out of the public purse in some way.

With his almost $265,000 salary, free housing and a car and driver, Scheer was not exactly hard done by. The sense of entitlement is baffling. The Conservatives’ slogan in the last election that “it’s time for you to get ahead” has a whole new meaning. More like it’s time for Scheer to get ahead, at your expense.

Scheer leaving is a good move for the party. While improving on the number of Conservative seats, Trudeau still won the election, albeit with a minority government. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, akin to coming in fourth in the Olympics.

Scheer failed to capitalize on all the Liberal scandals. He came across as unfocused and indecisive, letting his opponents define him. He made it easy for them.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper and former prime minister Jean Chretien both managed to govern for a decade by renouncing socially divisive issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Scheer was wishy-washy. As a result, the media had a field day with him.

Scheer’s message kept getting lost in the fog of war.

The election should have had the economy as a top issue. We lost 71,000 jobs in November alone, the largest unemployment number since the recession a decade ago. Not to mention our ever-ballooning deficit.

But those issues took a back seat to things like why Scheer won’t walk in Pride parades.

There’s no shortage of candidates to replace Scheer. But the Conservatives have to shed the greying old man image. In other words, they need a woman to replace him. Think former ministers Rona Ambrose and Lisa Raitt. The conservatives need a strong progressive leader to focus on real priorities, not constantly taking the Liberals’ bait.

With former minister John Baird’s upcoming report on what went wrong with the conservative election strategy to come out soon, the party has a few months of soul searching before the upcoming leadership convention in April.

The first thing the conservative party should do is insist that Scheer pay back the cost of his kids’ private school. The conservatives should also make more transparent about where donations are going. Otherwise, donations will end up drying up pretty fast.

This is my last column. I’ve written every Sunday for over four years now. It’s been fun and many thanks to my readers and staff at the Sun for their support.

– Andre Marin is counsel to the firm at Lister Beaupre

[email protected]



Source link

Posted on

Bass: ‘McConnell Should Recuse Himself’



On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to recuse himself from the Senate’s impeachment trial.

Bass said, “The leader of the Senate has basically said he is in lockstep, and he is going to coordinate with the defendant. And so, if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman of the jury says, well, I’m working with the person that’s being accused of the crime. And so, it’s completely inappropriate. McConnell should recuse himself. … How can a juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





Source link

Posted on

Mayor defends Vernon’s 4.9% tax increase in 2020 budget – Okanagan


Many city councils have been crunching the numbers for their 2020 budgets, and in Vernon, the result is a significant tax increase.

Vernon rate payers will be levied almost 4.9 per cent more next year.

However, the city’s mayor is defending the tax hike, saying the money will translate into extra services.


READ MORE:
Vancouver councillors send budget with 8.2% tax hike back to the drawing board

“It is really quite a level budget matching inflation,” Mayor Victor Cumming said.

“The only difference we’ve really done is added these extra services in fire, in safety and in recreation.”






Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review


Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review

Along with extra funding for bylaw and recreation staffing, the 2020 budget will see the city continuing with an infrastructure catch-up program to make up for Vernon’s lack of investment in replacing aging equipment in the past.

Story continues below advertisement

Vernon is currently eight years into what is expected to be a 10-year catch-up program, which the mayor said is already paying off.


READ MORE:
Tax cuts, flood fight and cost-control on Manitoba premier’s agenda

“We are spending less on emergency maintenance every year because we are catching up to basic maintenance and basic replacement,” Cumming said.

The budget also includes money to staff Vernon’s second fire hall in the landing area nearly 24/7 for faster response times.

During a pilot project for staffing that fire hall, Cumming said, crews had quicker response times in the western part of the city and faster response times for backup crews.


READ MORE:
Town of Gibbons considers going into the credit card business to raise revenue

“We ran a pilot last year,” the mayor explained. “We discovered that we got quicker access to any kind of issue on the west part of the city.

“We also got a really much better backup when we send firemen to a situation — we had much faster backup.”

After Vernon was plagued by dust advisories when the snow melted last year, the city is also planning to spend roughly $350,000 on a vacuum street sweeper in an effort to improve air quality.

“If anybody’s seen our street cleaners, there is a bit of a cloud of dust around them,” Cumming said.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are hoping to eliminate that and clean the streets faster and clean them more thoroughly.”


READ MORE:
Commercial cannabis producers in Alberta to start paying property taxes

Exactly how the tax increase will be divided up among residential, commercial and industrial rate players won’t be decided till the new year.






Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery


Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







Source link

Posted on

British Columbians fight US billionaire for ‘right to roam’ in wild


MERRITT — When most Canadians come across “No Trespassing” signs, they stop in their tracks and turn around, often in disappointment.

But not everyone gives up.

A few enter into decades-long battles, like the one against B.C.’s giant Douglas Lake Cattle Company, owned by one of America’s richest people, Stan Kroenke. And the lesson these diehards have been able to pass on is that “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs in Canada, despite being posted almost everywhere, are often not worth the plastic, wood or metal they’re printed on.


Stan Kroenke.

“Most of the no-trespassing signs you see in B.C. are illegal,” says Rick McGowan, as we travel over a gnarled, grassy track on the magnificent Douglas Lake ranch. This is not just any path, however. McGowan and his allies in the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club have shown in court it is a public right-of-way, even though it crosses the billionaire’s property.

The track leads to peaceful Stoney Lake, one of dozens of public bodies of water in the Cariboo-Chilcotin that locals, including Indigenous people, were able to fish on not long ago, but which have since been blockaded off by landowners.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves has ruled, however, that the American billionaire and his hired hands can no longer keep Stoney or nearby Minnie Lake, which are Crown property, behind locks, gates and no-trespassing signs.

The Nicola Valley club’s case against the Douglas Lake Cattle Company is a boon to Canadians who love the outdoors and seek rightful access to wild places.

McGowan, an easygoing but tough-talking man, is making a point of taking me over some of the long-obstructed public rights of way that lead to Stoney Lake on Kroenke’s ranch. The property is bigger than Metro Vancouver. It’s not only Canada’s largest ranch, it’s the biggest privately owned chunk of property anywhere in B.C.

“Pretty well all the no-trespassing signs around here are shot to s — t,” says McGowan, 67, who spent much of his career with the B.C. Highways Ministry mapping every metre of every road and right-of-way running through the stunning rolling hills southeast of Merritt.

“I’ve surveyed every road in the district. And I knew they were being locked illegally,” says McGowan, whose unique expertise is part of the reason Justice Grove called him an “impressive witness” and took him so seriously as an impartial “public-interest” litigant.

To put it another way, McGowan and his comrades are not in this for the money. Yet McGowan has been arrested three times by the local RCMP though never convicted. The judge criticized the police for their insidious collaboration with Kroenke’s ranch staff. B.C. government bureaucrats and politicians were also bitten by the judge’s rebukes.

Related

Even though the Douglas Lake ranch conflict has huge implications in its own right for access to wilderness, the Nicola Valley club’s concerted response to the reclusive billionaire’s efforts to lock out the people of B.C. is part of a much bigger movement.

That movement has been called “the freedom to roam” or “the right of public access to the wilderness.” It’s a centuries-old campaign by walkers, fishers, recreational users and other ordinary people to gain justified access to lakes, streams, mountains and wilderness, while showing respect for private property.

Sometimes campaigners try to gain access to government-owned lakes and rivers that end up surrounded by private land, which is the situation in the Nicola Valley case. Other times they battle to forge designated trails through “uncultivated” private property itself.

The freedom to roam is well advanced in Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and other nations, where it’s possible to walk pastoral routes that wend their way through a blend of public and private land for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres.

Will Canadians follow the European path?

‘Everything you can see … is owned by Stan Kroenke’

“Everything you can see for 30 miles is owned by Stan Kroenke,” McGowan says, standing at the top of a hill that surveys vast grasslands dotted with horses, cattle, rocks, birds and lakes.

The Douglas Lake Cattle Company is one of many B.C. ranches bought since 2003 by Kroenke, a Colorado-based real-estate baron who owns the Los Angeles Rams, the Denver Nuggets basketball team, the Colorado Avalanche hockey team, London’s Arsenal soccer club and other major-league sports franchises. He is married to Ann Walton, a scion of the family that owns Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue.


Rick McGowan, with his truck, next to Stoney Lake on the Douglas Lake ranch.

The Douglas Lake ranch — together with Kroenke’s recent acquisitions of nearby Alkali Lake, Riske Creek, Dog Creek and Quilchena ranches — encompasses roughly 5,000 square kilometres of deeded and Crown grazing land. Metro Vancouver, by comparison, covers 2,700 square kilometres.

The Douglas ranch has its own airstrip and fishing lodges. It also surrounds Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake, which McGowan and friends used to fish in before they were blocked by Kroenke, the man often known as “Silent Sam” since he never talks to the media. Forbes Magazine estimates Kroenke is worth $8.5 billion.

Since he owns more gigantic ranches in the U.S., Kroenke put a Canadian, Joe Gardner, in charge of the Douglas ranch and the extremely costly court case against the Nicola Valley club, which has had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the non-resident magnate.

But Gardner, after 40 years at the ranch, stepped down as general manager in July, just six months after Justice Groves decided against the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, saying two of the Crown-owned lakes on the ranch must be reopened for catch-and-release fishing to the public, even if the lakes are stocked by the ranch. Gardner, who still works for Kroenke, was not available for comment.

The judge’s hard-hitting decision — which criticized Gardner for acting above the law and RCMP members for colluding with him — is a huge affirmation that the Canadian public has a right to cherished water bodies, at a time when many believe governments are failing to stand up to private interests.

Groves accused the B.C. government of failing to respond to Douglas Lake ranch’s unlawfulness. “Over 20 years, a privately held corporation, owning a large swath of land, prohibited the public from driving on the public road, and the province did nothing,” he said.

The judge also rebuked Victoria in a scorching epilogue: “It makes no sense to me that the Crown would retain ownership of the lakes, only for there to be no access.” He urged B.C. politicians to re-examine trespassing laws and “guarantee access to this precious public resource.”

The Douglas Lake ranch is appealing the judge’s decision.

McGowan, who acknowledges he’s “a bit of a pot stirrer,” has long found it both provoking and laughable that RCMP officers have arrested him and many others for fighting for the freedom to fish on public lakes. He’s supported by countless people in the Nicola Valley, Kamloops, Metro Vancouver, Victoria and farther afield.

Their donations arrive by many routes, including at Nicola Valley club picnics, where hunting rifles are raffled. “I’ve been fighting this for over 30 years,” including with Douglas ranch’s previous owners, says McGowan, adding how rewarding it is that he’s been joined in the past decade by the Nicola Valley club and people like his lifelong neighbour, retired school teacher Harry Little. 

Little, a soft-spoken 73-year-old, has come along with us for the ride onto the Douglas ranch, where he describes how McGowan and he have frequently cut off illicit gate locks and explains that the overgrown road to Stoney Lake — which bizarrely remains under a highways maintenance contract — now dives under the surface of the lake, since Kroenke’s people have flooded it.

McGowan, leaning his big frame against his white Dodge Ram three-quarter-ton pickup truck, says people often ask him how he can keep going, since they worry the long conflict must be stressful.

But he laughs at the idea, saying: “This is therapy.”

Surveying the near endless hills of the Douglas Lake ranch, he says, “This was all locked for 30 years.” And now some routes are slowly being reopened.

Not that it is mission accomplished. McGowan says there are at least 30 more lakes in the Nicola Valley that landowners are illegally blockading behind gates, boulders and logs.

That includes the former access route to nearby Quilchena Falls, a spectacular waterfall south of the Kelowna Connector highway, which locals decades ago used to love to visit for swimming and picnics. But Quilchena Falls is now also blocked by Kroenke’s vast land holdings.

What, McGowan muses, does one of the world’s richest land barons want? “At the end of the day, I guess the true capitalist wants to own everything.”

The right to public jewels

I have had the pleasure of walking for days on end on trails through Scotland, Denmark, Italy and Wales, which at certain points traverse private land.

The remarkable European hiking and pilgrimage routes, many of which were in use for a millennium, have been reopened in many cases only because citizens fought complex battles for the right to enjoy them. Now they are considered public jewels.


Chris Harvey at Quilchena Falls, a public body of water now surrounded by the Douglas Lake ranch, which is restricting access.

One of the first crusades for the right to cross private land occurred in Manchester, England, in the 1930s. That’s when a rebellious group of young factory workers who called themselves “ramblers” showed just how determined they were to walk in a beautiful, privately owned area known as the Peak District.

The ramblers did so en masse and many, like in the Nicola Valley, were arrested. But over the long run they prevailed. And Britain is not alone in offering the public access to rights of way, including around the edges of farms. Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand and many other countries make a point of offering ordinary people the freedom to roam.

Taking into account local context, each country has carefully worked out viable ways to protect landowners from irresponsible users, who owners fear might venture off designated trails, leave behind garbage, camp without permission, start a fire, damage the environment or sue for an injury.

In Canada, by contrast, private-property signs blocking access to public land abound, thoroughly intimidating the uninformed populace. The Nicola Valley club lawyer, Chris Harvey, says Canadians appear to expect governments to protect their access to the wild. But most governments are doing the opposite.

When it comes to property rights, Harvey says, Canadians are somewhere in between more open-minded European landowners and hypervigilant Americans, many of whom behave as if the right to protect private property, often with guns, is their nation’s most sacred value.

The right-to-roam movement in Canada is slowly gaining legs, however, including in B.C., where even city dwellers feel defined by wild places.

Two years ago, inspired by the Douglas ranch case, B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver launched private members Bill M223: The Right to Roam Act. Even though it died on the order paper, Green representative Claire Hume says it “remains an issue we think is incredibly important and one we would love to see government take on.”

Recognizing the right-to-roam discussion raises “some delicate decision points around traditional (Indigenous) territory and private property-trespass law,” Hume said Weaver didn’t expect his bill — which was intended to make nature “open to all, not just the privileged few” — to pass the way he had drafted it. But he does hope it will spark more discussion in the legislature.

Right-to-roam advocates have never sought unfettered access

The head of the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, Calvin Sandborn, is one of many leaders of a loose-knit coalition determined to make it possible for citizens to experience nature by venturing onto private land.

Sandborn and law students Graham Litman and Matt Hulse have created a seminal report titled Enhancing Public Access to Privately Owned Wild Lands, which looks at some of B.C.’s most lively action fronts.

In addition to covering the Douglas Lake conflict, Sandborn’s team is monitoring an effort to create a 700-kilometre walking network on Vancouver Island, called the Island Spine Trail. They’re also tracking roaming disputes on Lasqueti Island, Galiano Island and in Comox.


Rick McGowan and long-time neighbour Harry Little, on the Douglas Lake ranch.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation, the B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers and B.C. Outdoor Recreation Council have prepared positions on the right to roam. And they’re tracking the many ways recreational users constantly come up against landowners.

To ease landowners’ concerns, Sandborn emphasizes right-to-roam advocates have never sought unfettered access to property. “We don’t want people going through a hundred different trails on someone’s property. Access can be provided in a variety of ways.”

And not only to remote wilderness. The Gorge region of the City of Victoria is also in play. Sandborn’s students have surveyed how property owners have built carports and sheds over public rights of way to the Gorge waterway, which are legally supposed to occur every 200 metres.

Sandborn says when one Gorge neighbour who lived across the street from waterfront properties that were illicitly blocking beach access found out what the law students were doing, he remarked, “’I’ve lived here 20 years. And I didn’t realize until now I had the right to take my canoe down to the water.’”

Metro Vancouver has its own access-to-waterfront issues, says Sandborn — in White Rock and West Vancouver.

Washington state can be a model for B.C.

The University of Victoria report suggests which global jurisdictions could be models for B.C. Surprisingly, given Americans’ legendary emphasis on absolute private property rights, one of them is in B.C.’s own Cascadian backyard: Washington state.

The counties that contain Seattle and Bellingham both offer major tax breaks to owners who make portions of their land available to hikers, birdwatchers, sightseers, horseback riders and other nature lovers, all of whom are expected to follow rules for respecting private property.

Creative things have also been happening at the other end of Canada, in Nova Scotia. That province has long provided citizens the right to cross private, uncultivated land and to go on foot along the banks of rivers and lakes to fish, including with a boat.

Which is precisely the kind of freedom the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club seeks on the Douglas ranch and beyond.

McGowan is playing the long game, but he doesn’t, to put it mildly, trust politicians. He knows his comrades will need help, particularly from younger generations. He realizes his encyclopedic knowledge of roads and property bylaws in the Nicola Valley has been an incredible asset for the local cause, but he also knows most people don’t have the same background.

So, at his age, he’s worried.

As geese fly overhead, he says the access-to-land cause in the Nicola Valley needs “somebody else to pick up the cudgel.” The long-term strategy of billionaire landowners and their ilk, he believes, is to use their immense wealth to hire lawyers and others to wear people down.

“This is their dream: That guys like me will die off. And nobody will remember.”

The Douglas Lake ranch’s appeal will be heard March 30  and 31 in Vancouver.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/@douglastodd





Source link

Posted on

Democrats Expect Wide Scale Defections on Impeachment Vote



Democrats are expecting wide-scale defections among their rank and file when Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump come to the floor for a vote next week, the Washington Post reports.

the Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis wrote late Wednesday:

House Democratic leaders are bracing for some defections among a group of moderate Democrats in swing districts who are concerned a vote to impeach President Trump could cost them their seats in November.

Bade and DeBonis quote three senior House Democrat officials saying that there will be at least a half dozen Democrats who join with all Republicans to oppose impeaching President Trump, but a third senior Democrat aide told them there would probably be many more than just a half dozen defections.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.

Generally speaking, if leadership of the majority party is publicly leaking that they expect at least a half-dozen defections a week before the actual vote, the number of defections on said vote is likely to be much higher. It’s remarkable that Democrats are now readily admitting they will lose at least six Democrats on the vote, probably more, but Bade and DeBonis have also confirmed now that Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) will vote against Articles of Impeachment, just as he voted against opening the impeachment inquiry to begin with.

They also say that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) has confirmed he is leaning against voting for Articles of Impeachment–Peterson was the other Democrat to join all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the inquiry vote–but also that Democrat leaders expect that Peterson will join Van Drew and other Democrats in the bipartisan vote against the increasingly partisan impeachment push against Trump.

Bade and DeBonis reported that these frontline Democrats–there are yet no more who have as of yet publicly stated they intend to vote against Articles of Impeachment, but many are privately fretting the forthcoming vote–are having second thoughts about this, now that they have seen polling moving against impeachment.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Predictions about some defections come as a core group of centrists from districts Trump won in 2016 are having second thoughts. While many knew impeachment would never be popular in their GOP-leaning districts, some have been surprised that support hasn’t increased despite negative testimony about Trump from a series of blockbuster hearings last month. Several moderates have privately pined for other options, including a censure vote they know they’re unlikely to get. Others have even considered what one moderate called ‘splitting the baby’: backing one article of impeachment but not the other to try to show independence from the party.

Further complicating matters for Democrats is the fact that the U.S. Senate will not convict President Trump. To do so, the Senate would need 67 votes for conviction on Articles of Impeachment–and there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, all of whom are aligned behind Trump at this stage. What’s more, some Senate Democrats are potentially expected to join the bipartisan opposition to the partisan impeachment push–particularly Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), but also possibly Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Gary Peters (D-MI), or Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)–if it reaches that stage.

Manchin on Wednesday said he was “torn” over impeachment, and he even backed the White House’s push to have former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden be called in to testify in a potential Senate trial should it reach that stage.

While it still seems more likely than not that Articles of Impeachment will pass the House of Representatives next week, if enough of these vulnerable Democrats band together against them on the floor, they could avoid a messy Senate trial that would undoubtedly acquit Trump, giving him a massive boost going into his 2020 re-election campaign. Assuming Peterson does end up voting no, as Van Drew has confirmed he will, Democrats could only afford to lose a total of 17 more of their members on the floor and still pass impeachment.

There are four vacancies in the House, and former GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan–who left the party over this–is expected to join the Democrats in the vote for impeachment, so that means Democrats would need 216 votes for impeachment to pass. As such, 19 total votes from Democrats against Articles of Impeachment–there is already at least one, probably two, with many more expected–could sink the vote.

There are 31 districts that Democrats currently represent that President Trump won in 2016, and another 20 or so that are considered battlegrounds with vulnerable incumbents.

Democrat leadership, meanwhile, does not intend to ensure its passage–and will not whip the votes for impeachment on the floor.

“In fact, Democratic leaders have said they don’t intend to whip the impeachment vote, allowing each member to make his or her own personal choice on such a historic roll call that many see as a legacy-defining issue,” Bade and DeBonis wrote before quoting Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), a deputy whip in House Democrat leadership, as confirming the plan by Democrat leaders to not whip the vote.



Source link

Posted on

UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party appear to be campaigning for Labour candidate – Channel 4 News


Should a British parliamentary candidate receive campaign support from an organisation linked to an oppressive foreign government?

Questions are being asked about an operation to support  Labour’s candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn in north London. Tulip Siddiq is the niece of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, whose government is accused of serious human rights violations.

Channel 4 News has seen evidence that the UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party has been running a campaign to support Tulip Siddiq’s re-election.

Ms Siddiq claims this is “categorically untrue”. Fatima Manji reports



Source link